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Published:16 May 2013

Understanding your medication

New research from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has revealed a need for patients to improve their health and reduce medicines waste through a better understanding of their medicines. According to the research, only around half said they were aware of the side effects of medication before they  took it.  

Studies show that between 30-50 per cent of people don't take their medicines as recommended and more than 70 per cent of  admissions to hospital for adverse drug reactions are avoidable.  

Only 44 per cent said they would check how a medicine might react with other prescriptions.  Only 10 per cent said they would check for interactions between a medicine and any herbal remedy they were taking.

Long-term condition

In England around one in three of the population have a long-term condition such as epilepsy, requiring regular medication.

Community pharmacist Paul Johnson said:  'It's easy to forget verbal instructions about medicines when you are first diagnosed with a condition. Most long-term conditions require medicines for life, and even if you start off taking them well, bad habits can creep in over time.

'There needs to be a refocusing of the system so pharmacists play a much bigger role in helping people with long term conditions manage their medicines better.'

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, in collaboration with patient groups including Epilepsy Society, has produced a list of questions people can ask when they are being prescribed a medicine.